I’m pretty sure that everyone who reads Revelation is waiting to meet the beast. Not really “meet” as in a face to face encounter, but it’s who we’ve been expecting to see. There is a lot of attention given to the beast, so let’s figure out what we can about him.
We know that as Chapter 12 came to an end, the dragon was waiting for him. The text in 12:18 read, “Then he stood waiting on the shore of the sea.” We didn’t know then what the dragon was waiting for. But the fact that John’s vision included that gave me pause to wonder “waiting for what?” People often wait for “their ship to come in,” an idiom for the anticipation of success or wealth. Surely after his defeat in heaven, the dragon (Satan) was waiting for success.
Then it happened. John’s vision saw a beast rising up out of the sea. What a sight! The beast, not a dragon, had very similar characteristics to the dragon, but in animal form. And interestingly enough, the beast described is a combination of four separate beasts described in Chapter 7 of the book of Daniel.
What did you take away from this reading today? The dragon now has a helper. The dragon was getting more attention because of the power he had given the beast. The people of the world seem to be mesmerized by these two. When you partner with someone else with strength, your own popularity can soar from the association. But this period of “glory” was limited to 42 months, the 3-1/2 years we have encountered before.
God allowed it for a time. There were limits. God was always in control. Yet, during this time, it seems blasphemies against God were a favorite activity of the beast, as well as slanderous words against all of those believers in heaven. If you have ever had lies told about you or been accused of something that was not true, you know the pain and agony.
John’s vision says that all who were “of the world” worshiped the beast. For a time, those faithful to God would have been suffering. “This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.”
We have seen the kingdom of God take a hit before in our day by leaders and people in authority who are of this world. One simple example is the movement to take “In God We Trust” off of U.S. currency. It’s sometimes hard not to take those attacks personally, because as believers we are taking “second-hand blows” when the name of God the Almighty is questioned or abused. It can be as simple as people saying, “God damn it” or screaming “Jesus Christ” in anger or frustration rather than in praise and adoration.
If I am feeling offended or hurt by such things, I can imagine the heart of God being pierced each time. We can shrug it off and say, “everyone does it” or “they don’t really mean anything by it.” But seriously! Whether or not either of those statements have any merit, it’s just wrong. We are getting lazy in our faith and allegiance. When we let our guard down, it is so much easier for the evil one (the beast or the dragon) to get inside our heads and our hearts.
We must be vigilant. God’s spirit is inside of us on purpose to give us wisdom. He knew our names from the beginning of time and while we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around that, he knows us and has been preparing our eternity with him forever. We don’t want to let the “world” take that away from us. Is that even possible? Can Satan snatch us away like he tried to do in yesterday’s reading to the baby?
I’m not taking any chances. I am on God’s team, and I am proud of it. If that means I get laughed at or worse, then so be it.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the strength and tenacity you have given me to cling to you. I pray for wisdom to discern the messages of the world. Use my words to help people know you more deeply and desire to seek you as their own guide for life. Equip me to fight the beast and stand up for Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.